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Deciduous: Gleditsia triacanthos

Botanical name: Gleditsia triacanthos

Common name: Honey Locust Tree

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Photo credit: CallunaGarden
Deciduous: Gleditsia triacanthos
Deciduous: Gleditsia triacanthos
Deciduous: Gleditsia triacanthos
created by:
chief cultivator

Mercer island, Wa

at a glance

Soil: damp, neutral, sand
Zones: 3a thru 8b

deer resistant, fall interest

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description for "Deciduous: Gleditsia triacanthos"

Honey locust is native to the east coast of the United States all the way to Texas. It typically grows 60-80’ (less frequently to 120’) tall with a rounded spreading crown. Trunk and branches have stout thorns (to 3” long) that are solitary or in threes. Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)have Pinnate (feather-like leaves) to bipinnate yellow green leaves with ovate leaflets (1/2” to 1 1/2” long). The Feathery leaves cast a sun-dappled shade. Honey locust leaves turn yellow in fall, but sometime drop off early without providing any significant fall color. Greenish yellow to greenish white flowers appear in racemes in late spring. Flowers are followed by long, twisted and flattened, dark purplish-brown seedpods (to 18” long) which mature in late summer and persist well into winter. Seedpods contain, in addition to seeds, a sweet gummy substance that gives honey locust its common name. Species plants are generally not sold in commerce. Thornless varieties and cultivars that produce few if any seedpods are the preferred plants (e.g., Gleditsia triacanthos f. inermis). Honey locust is susceptible to a large number of potential disease problems, including leaf spot, canker, witches’ broom, powdery mildew and rust. Borers and webworms are common insect problems in some areas. Leaflets are too small to rake, which is good, but seed pods are unattractive on the tree and messy when they fall. Thorns on species plants can be just plain nasty. Edited by H. Harris


Shortly after the Civil War battle of Gettysburg, in July 1863, the Governor of Pennsylvania, Andrew Curtin, commissioned lawyer David Wills to acquire land for a soldiers' cemetery. Wills purchased 17 acres on Cemetery Hill, one of the landmarks of the Union line during the battle. The cemetery dedication was planned for November 9, 1863, with the chief speaker to be famed orator Edward Everett. Lincoln was also invited to "make a few remarks." On the 19th, Everett spoke for two hours from a speakers' platform which stood near this tree. Lincoln's "few remarks" were brief but pithy. In fact, photographers were still setting up their cameras when he concluded. The Gettysburg Address would become known as one of the greatest speeches in American history. Today, the cemetery is the final resting place for 5,500 veterans of all wars. The Gettysburg Address Honey Locust stands on a prominent hilltop, about a hundred yards from the spot where Lincoln spoke. Your tree grew from a seed hand-picked from the Gettysburg Address Honey Locust.

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